Born of War
by David E. Feldman
Category: Fiction / Historical
272 pages; ISBN: 0595143709
Rating: 8/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen
Based on a true story, this novel is the story of Henry Neiberg, a native of Brooklyn, who volunteers to join the Army in World War II. He isn't sure if Frances, his girlfriend, will wait for him, because she feels that Henry, lacking a social conscience, is not the sort of man she wants to marry.
Henry is less-than-happy about being sent to the "backwater" of China as a glorified accountant in the 14th Army Air Corps (the Flying Tigers) near Kunming. It's a place where the black market is thriving. Everything is for sale, including American aid for the Nationalist troops and items sent from home, and everyone wants a piece of the action. Despite official warnings to the contrary, Henry and his buddy, Jake Singer, become friends with Mr and Mrs Ai, owners of a local dumpling shop, and manage to get involved in internal Chinese politics.
The two Americns are told about the Communists, who have started liberate parts of China in the north from the Nationalists (America's official ally). The Communists do a much better job of (for want of a better term) winning the hearts and minds of the people than the Nationalists, for whom the words "corrupt" and "incompetent" come to mind. Dodging the Nationalist spies, who are never far away, Mr and Mrs Ai and the other local Communist sympathizers begin to think that Henry and Jake are more open-minded than the usual jingoistic Yanks. They are introduced to others higher up in the "organization." Among those asking about life in America not covered in the news media are Chou En-Lai and Mao Tse-Tung.
The author does a fine job from start to finish. He gets away from the usual war novel stereotypes, if anyone "lost" China to the Communists, it was the Nationalists, and it's an interesting story about one person's emotional growing up. This is more than worth reading.